In the late afternoon in any Turkish town you will see cafes filled with cake lovers enjoying a sweet session of pogaca (buns), syrup-drenched lokma (fritters), or 40-layer baklava. It’s believed that food and drink sustain the body and the spirit, and as Susan Everett discovered, dining with local friends in Turkey is a real travel treat…
“On the Cairo to Istanbul trip a personal highlight was the homestay in a small village outside of Urfa. The whole evening was amazing. So as not to offend our kind hosts the men in our group wore their long trousers and for most of us women our sarongs came in handy as ankle-length skirts. We sat on cushions on the floor while the children finished their homework and their parents prepared a meal that smelled more enticing by the minute.
The main course was a real treat for those of us who like to spice things up, because the town of Urfa is famous for its crushed red pepper. Known locally as isot, the smoky aroma and earthy flavour of this chile packs a moderate but pretty good punch. We’d been warned to save room for the final dish and they were right. Another Urfa speciality is their pistachio desserts, oozing with wickedly sweet syrup and too good to pass up!
After dinner the family played some traditional music and we enjoyed spending time together until it was the hour to hit the hay. Well not hay exactly. In Urfa the traditional mattresses are made of soft cozy wool. It was a still and starry night, so some of the group escaped the heat by sleeping outside on the roof.
Our visit concluded the next morning with heartfelt thanks and goodbyes. You could see the pride in our lovely hosts’ faces that they had fed us well, and for us it was one of those real life experiences and delicious feasts that we’ll never forget.”
If you’d love to enjoy a taste of Turkey at home, you can try making this delicious and surprisingly easy Turkish Delight recipe.
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* photo by Val Shooter – Intrepid Photography Competition